Laundry Service Guide to Selecting, Saving and Replacing Hotel Sheets

guide-to-selecting-hotel-sheets.jpgHotel sheets, as any hotelier knows, aren’t just textiles, they serve as a physical representation of what your property stands for.Luxurious, well-maintained and amply supplied sheets speak volumes to staff and guests about your high standards. 

Given how important sheets and other linens are for hotels, resorts, spas and timeshare properties, it’s essential to understand how to choose the right products, protect them over time and replace them when you need to.

Next to hotel and resort personnel, perhaps no one group has given as much thought to the importance of sheets as commercial laundry providers. It’s their business, after all, to make hotels look good.

With that attention to detail in mind, here’s a commercial laundry service guide to selecting, saving and replacing hotel sheets.

The Selection Process

Just as luxurious sheets are worth 1,000 words to your guests and staff, sheets that aren’t carefully sourced or well cared-for also have a story to tell, and the ending isn’t a happy one. Guests who have been counting on you for a good night’s sleep will be disappointed, and staff get a silent message about your approach to quality.

With all of the old assumptions and new technology regarding hotel linens, choosing the right products can be overwhelming. So here are some tips to get you started:

  • Comparison shop: Acquiring new linens is an opportunity to see what new products or textile innovations have become available since the last time you were in the market. Have a list of good questions to ask suppliers about their products and recommendations.
  • Ask around: Have your linen distributor provide a list of customers with similar needs to yours so you can get their impressions about performance.
  • Get samples: Test driving new textiles before you buy is a great way to gauge durability and whether they meet your standards.
  • Don’t go it alone: If you partner with a hotel laundry service, get their input on your linen purchase. They’ve seen a lot of laundry – literally tons of it – so they’ll have great insight about what direction to go.

Saving Sheets, Saving Money

Experts estimate that the hotel industry invests up to $2 billion a year in sheets, towels, duvet covers, pillow shams and bathrobes. And, even more sobering, hotels lose 15 to 20 percent of that precious inventory to premature loss or discarding.

How’s that for an incentive to save your sheets?

Some linen loss is inevitable as materials reach the end of their lifecycle or succumb to wear and tear. But much of the loss is preventable and can be significantly decreased with some simple steps.

Take Towels off the Table as a Way to Clean Up Messes

Providing makeup remover cloths in your bathrooms and reusable cleaning cloths or paper towels in your kitchenettes will make guests less likely to turn your bath towels into cleaning rags.

The same goes for staff: Give housekeeping and maintenance staff cleaning materials so they don’t use your guest towels for the wrong kinds of jobs.

Make Storage a Priority

Guest linens should be stored in a temperature- and moisture-controlled environment that’s far away from harsh cleaning chemicals and the rags that are used with them.

In general, keep cleaning rags as far from your linens as possible to avoid mixing them together. Dying rags a different color is one way staff can easily separate and distinguish them. 

Put Technology on Your Side

Washable RFID (radio frequency identification) chips in linens have been credited with saving hotels and resorts thousands of dollars in linen losses.

Before adding RFID chips to its pool towels, one large resort property reported losing 4,000 towels to theft every month. After RFID, that number dropped to 750, saving $16,000.

Properly Maintain Your Commercial Laundry Equipment

Make sure that every machine or piece of equipment that comes into contact with your laundry is clean and working properly.

One greasy part on your old ironer can wreak havoc on your linens with stains and other damage, as can a single sharp edge in your laundry chute.

The nature of the laundry detergents is key, too. If you have an on property laundry, have staff regularly check to make sure your chemical and temperature levels are correct.

Replacement Recommendations

You’ve selected the best linens, you’ve put practices in place to minimize losses, and you’re probably feeling pretty good about your supply overall. But don’t get too comfortable, because you should probably be preparing for your next round of replacements.

Have Enough Pars

Too often, hotels and resorts let their par levels get too low before they order new stock or they skate by with only two pars on hand.

The recommended number of pars is four:

  • One in use in the room
  • One in the closet to be used next in the room
  • One dirty that just came out of a room
  • One in the laundry

Having enough pars keeps you well prepared for the unexpected, and you’ll be able to give your linens a much-needed rest between uses.

Track Your Linen Inventory Regularly

Even worse than maintaining too low a par level is not adequately tracking inventory and not realizing you’re low until it’s too late.

If you’re running an on property laundry operation, have a system in place for auditing your inventory at a regular cadence, and step it up as you prepare for high season. If you partner with a laundry vendor, ask for their help in keeping you on track.

Know When it’s Time to Say Goodbye

It’s important to choose the right linens to put into circulation and even more important to choose the right time to take them out.

Guests should never see frayed, yellowing, torn or damaged linens, and the longer you allow them to linger, the more you’re paying to keep laundering and storing them when they’re past their prime.

The money spent selecting and protecting hotel sheets isn’t just an investment in your linen supply, it’s a down payment on guest satisfaction. Each dollar you spend and step you take will pay off with great guest reviews and staff who are proud to work for you. In the end, they’re sheets and so much more.